The week leading up to Brock Osweiler’s nationally-televised return to Denver has featured a litany of inane talking in circles about things that largely do not matter. One thing that hasn’t been discussed nearly as much - the actual football that’s going to be played.
Houston has of course been straight up dreadful on the road this season. Granted, both road games were against top teams, but this is an area where the Texans are absolutely failing and have been failing. Bill O’Brien’s Texans are largely inept on the road against good teams. If “9-7 is not the bar,” as O’Brien said earlier in the season, then it might be a good time to pull another shocker out of his back pocket as Houston did in Cincinnati on a Monday night last season. That game featured a 3-5 Texans team taking on the 8-0 Bengals. Nobody in their right mind had Houston winning that game. Sound familiar? Let’s get to the BRB staff picks:
Tim: Broncos 23, Texans 13.
I'd love nothing more than to believe that the Texans' offense we saw for the last few minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime Sunday night was a sign of things to come, but there's no getting around that Houston did what it did against the Colts' defense. If I'm looking for a comparable defense to what Denver will trot out there on Monday night, at least in terms of productivity and general difficulty for the opposition, my mind immediately goes the Vikings, and we all know how that went.
I don't expect (I hope?) Monday night to get out of hand as quickly as the Vikings game did, mostly because Trevor Siemian has not shown the capability to consistently take advantage of opposing defenses. Unfortunately, I do foresee Brock Osweiler pressing (even more than usual) and turning the ball over at least twice. If the Texans are going to pull off the upset, it'll be due to a defensive score or two; the offense seems very likely to struggle.
Chris HDH: Broncos 20, Texans 9.
I’m going to be perpetually in “wait and see” mode with this offense. I’m not going to predict it to do anything until it does something. As thrilling as last week’s win was, no, I do not count a couple of late TDs against the trash that is Indy’s defense.
BFmf’nD: Broncos 41, Texans 10.
In bullet point form:
-I will start the game drinking beer.
-This will quickly transition to tears after Brock's first of three picks in the game.
-By the third quarter, I'll turn to Lady Hwisky.
-In the fourth quarter, I'll finally bust open my new bottle of Flintstones Chewables Flavored Bleach for the fitting occasion.
-I will not compel myself to think, "You know, Brock's not looking so bad now" as he completes a couple of passes in trash time against Boulder Elementary students.
O'Brien is out-coached and out-game-planned by Gary Kubiak. Ima let that one sink in.
kdentify: Broncos 21, Texans 17.
Despite all that's been said at BRB, Gary Kubiak remains one of the best offensive coaches in the NFL today. He will demonstrate that Monday night against our Texans in a game that will hopefully be less embarrassing than Bill Belichick's owning of OB a few weeks ago. Our offense will score, but, as much as I praise RAC and think he's an amazing DC, injuries will bite the defense enough to cause problems. Add in the fact that Brock hasn't demonstrated that he's our franchise QB, and he will be anxious enough against his old team to make enough mistakes for Wade's defense to capitalize on. Basically this is one of those games I wish we played on Sunday afternoon so no one saw it but Texans and Broncos fans.
Capt. Ron: Texans 24, Broncos 23.
Both teams have very similar situations right now: A stellar defense that can keep their team in games, a young quarterback learning a new system while getting comfortable with the speed of the NFL game, and offenses that don't work well without the running game having success. I suspect the game plans will be very similar as well: On offense, both teams need to establish the run to protect the quarterback from a vicious pass rush, and on defense both teams need to stop the run to force the opponent into a vulnerable passing game. It comes down to game plans, adjustments, and effective execution.
If we based this off the first four or five games of the season, I would tilt this in Denver's favor without a second thought. However, the Broncos have failed miserably in their last two games in both running the football and with their quarterback struggling against Cover 2. The Texans have also struggled in the running game and against Cover 2, but they finally broke free from that in their unlikely comeback against the Colts. The entire Houston team was energized by that experience together, and it absolutely had that "forging" moment to give them all the confidence they need against all odds going forward.
Luke Beggs: Broncos 24, Texans 17.
While both teams have a similar situation in terms of QB play and offensive line instabilities, I just can't see the Texans winning unless Brock produces more of the Godweiler that inhabited his body for those last two drives against Indianapolis. IT COULD HAPPEN. I'm just really doubtful that it will. The Broncos’ defense at home is just too much of uphill battle for the Texans to overcome.
UprootedTexan: Broncos 30, Texans 7.
I really, really don't like the match-up between Denver's pass rush against the Texans’ pitiful offensive line. Plus, this is the game where everyone finds out whether Brock Osweiler's play in the fourth quarter/overtime on Sunday was just a hot streak or the start of something new. The preponderance of evidence indicates that it was just a hot streak, and I don't expect Denver's defense, nor Osweiler, to do the Texans any favors.
I will also predict that if the Broncos do beat the Texans the headline "Siemian Outduels Osweiler" will grace every sports page, news service, and column, save for Jason La Canfora, who will have died in an explosion of his own nauseating smugness.
Weston: Broncos 23, Texans 10.
The Texans have a very bad offense. The Broncos have a very good defense. The last time the Texans faced this type of game, they went down 24-0 and didn't have a first down on their own until there was 1:53 left in the second quarter. It's going to be a gross one.
Mike Bullock: Texans 20, Broncos 16.
Call me a homer, or an optimist or just plain naive, but I believe that (a) the Broncos aren't as good as the media seems to make them out to be and (2) the Texans offense has to click sooner or later. Why not now, when Brock returns to the bosom of Uncle Elway?
Sure, the Broncos have a great defense, but their offense is horrible. Worse than Houston's statistically. And, their defense isn't that much better than the Texans. If J.J. Watt wasn't injured, Denver’s defense would be inferior to Houston's for sure.
Denver has beaten four teams with a combined win-loss total of 7-17 at the time of this writing. That's seven wins at Week Seven of the season between the lot of them - FOUR teams combining to win an average of ONE GAME A WEEK. They've lost to two teams with a combined record of 6-6. Not exactly the resume of a championship team.
Denver's players also seem to be so assured that this is an easy win for them, so the term "trap game' could easily be applied.
Houston, on the other hand, is playing with a big chip on their shoulder as the players, coaches and team staff alike all feel like they aren't getting the respect due a team that's 4-2 and leading their division.
If the Texans are going to pull a surprise rabbit out of their helmet this season, this is the game for it.
Looks like only a couple of BRB staffers have been binge-eating LSD before sitting in front of their computers. I need the hookup!
Please use the comments below to discuss, criticize, and make your own predictions for Monday Night Football!